India to retain right to N testing : Pranab

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New Delhi, Dec 5 (UNI) The government today emphatically stated that India would not forego its right to nuclear testing under the Indo-US nuclear agreement, making it clear that it would go ahead with the deal, even as the entire opposition and Left allies walked out in protest.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while replying to the short-duration discussion on the Indo-US Nuclear deal in Rajya Sabha, said India would not forego its right to conduct the nuclear tests and refinement of nuclear weapons, if warranted by the geo-political situation.

''Consequences may follow and we are prepared to face it as we did in 1974 and 1998...'' he said.

Asserting that the opponents of the Indo-US Nuclear agreement did not have any case, he said the government would go ahead with the deal to sustain 9-10 per cent growth rate.

He described the nuclear deal as a ''passport'' for India to carry out nuclear commerce with other countries in its pursuit of cost-effective energy options.

''We have got the passport. Now we have to wait for the visas'' to carry out nuclear commerce, he said.

The Minister made it clear that India would be governed only by the 123 Agreement, not the Hyde Act, and nothing prevented the country from conducting nuclear tests and refining nuclear weapons.

In his hour-long reply, Mr Mukherjee also rejected the demands from the BJP and the CPM to get the ''sense of the House'' and not rush with the deal, saying only the process had been initiated.

''I am not opposed to taking the sense of the House, but on what...It is only a process,'' he said adding that the opponents had neither a reason, nor case.

''They have no reason, they have no case,'' he said as the members walked out in protest after the Minister refused to yield to their demand of not rushing with the deal and taking the ''sense of the House'' instead.

Majority of the members in the House are against the deal, Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.

''They have no reason. They have no case,'' Mr Mukherjee said dismissing their demands.

Mr Mukherjee, whose spirited defence of the deal drew repeated applause from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other members of the treasury benches, also asked the Opposition not to doubt the sincerity of the Government.

''It (deal) is only a process, give it a try,'' he said.

Rubbishing the argument that nuclear energy was a costly proposition the country could ill-afford, the External Affairs Minister said same doubts were expressed when the country ushered in IT revolution and mobile phone.

He stressed the importance of nuclear energy to maintain the growth rate.

India's requirement by 2020-2030 is 800,000 to 1,000,000 MW.

The Minister lauded the role of the Indian community in the US for building up a case for the nuclear agreement.

Mr Mukherjee said XXX Eds pick up here from line para five of PAR 12 'NUCLEAR DEBATE PRANAB TWO RS'.

UNI

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